10,000 BC – Jomon Era. The islands of Japan were settled by hunter-gatherer people. Much fine pottery has been found dating from this period.
300 BC – End of the Jomon Era. Much contact with Korea and China. Beginning of Yayoi era.
300 BC – 300 AD – Yayoi Period. Various groups of extended families began struggling for power at local level.
100 BC – Rice and iron are imported into Japan by the migration of the Yayoi (a people related to the Mongols), who also brought a new language and a new religion.
0 AD – Shinto becomes the national religion.
57 AD – Japan is mentioned in Chinese history for the first time.
250 – Building of the Shintoist shrine of Ise.
239 – First Japanese envoy visits China.
300-645 – The Yamato/Kofun culture. A unified state begins with strong clan rulers. The society is heavily based on Chinese culture (art, Confucianism, government, technology and language). It rules from Kyushu to the Kinai plain, based around the town of Naniwa in the Yamato plain (Osaka).
500 – Japan adopts the Chinese alphabet.
538 – King Paekche of Korea sends a delegation to introduce Buddhism to the Emperor of Japan.
550 – The Soga dynasty takes the throne and the capital of Japan is moved to Asuka valley in the central Yamato plain.
593 – Prince Shotoku (of the Soga clan) promotes Buddhism within Japan.
604 – First constitution (Kenpo Jushichijo) is issued by Prince Shotoku, based on the teachings of Confucius.
605 – Buddhism and Confucianism are declared the state religions by Prince Shotoku.
607 – Prince Shotoku builds the famous (Buddhist) Horyuji temple.
645 – Asuka period begins. Kotoku Tenno succeeds Prince Shotoku, and increases imperial power over the clans.
710 – Nara period begins. The capital is moved from Asuka to Nara which is styled after China’s capital.
743 – At Nara Emperor Shomu founds the Todaiji temple (the largest wooden building in the world) which also contains a huge Buddha statue.
794 – Heian Period begins. The capital moves to Heian-kyo.
804 – Buddhist monk Saicho begins the Tendai school of Buddhism.
806 – Buddhist monk Kukai introduces the Shingon school of Tantric Buddhism.
838 – The emperor forbids contact with China.
858- Fujiwara clan ascends to the throne.
1000 – The professional military class, known as Samurai, begins to gain a great deal of influence and power.
1068- Gosanjo defeats clan Fujiwara and becomes emperor.
1087 AD – Emperor Shirakawa abdicates to devote his life to Buddhism.
1100s – The two strongest military clans rise to power (clan Taira and clan Minamoto). The two clans fought a number of battles.
1156 – Taira defeats the Minamoto clan and clan prince Kiyomori takes control.
1175 – Monk Shinran starts the Jodo school of Pure Land Buddhism.
1181 – Famine strikes, killing hundreds of thousands.
1185 – Kamakura Period. The Taira clan is defeated in the Gempei War and Yoritomo of the Hojo clan seizes power as the first shogun of Japan, while the emperor remains as a figurehead.
1191 – Buddhist monk Eisai begins the school of Zen Buddhism which proves very popular with the samurai.
1200s – The influence of the private estate holders decreases. he emperor’s power declines and the shogunate becomes extremely powerful.
1221 – The army of Shogun Kamakura defeats the army of the emperor.
1227 – Buddhist monk Dogen introduces Soto Zen Buddhism.
1274 – Kublai Khan’s Mongols try to invade Japan but are repelled by storms, considered to be divine in origin.
1300s -The Minamoto clan declines in power.
1330 – Emperor Go-Daigo defeats the Kamakura shogunate, thus restoring imperial power.
1333 – Muromachi Period begins.
1336 – Ashikaga Takauji captures Kyoto Go-Daigo, moves to the southern court of Yoshino.
1338 – Takauji declares himself the new shogun, and establishes the northern court of Muromachi, dividing the country.
1392 – The southern court is defeated by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu uniting the empire once more.
1400-1460s – Political control breaks down.
1467 – Civil war erupts in Japan between feudal clan lords (daimyo).
1500s – Japan under a series of civil wars of people fighting for control of the land.
1542 – The first advanced firearms enter the country with shipwrecked Portuguese.
1549 – The first Europeans begin arriving in Japan. The Portuguese missionary Francis Xavier, comes to Japan. Direct trade with Europe begins. Missionaries begin converting Japanese to Christianity. The Portuguese trade guns with the Japanese, which are readily purchased during this time of civil war.
1560s – Daimyo Oda Nobunaga leads a coalition against Kyoto, where they are able to gain control of the area and bring an end to the civil war.
1568 – Azuchimomoya Period starts.
1570 – The first Japanese Jesuit priests are ordained.
1573 – Daimyo Oda Nobunaga defeats the Muromachi, extending his control to cover the entire Japan.
1575 – At the battle of Nagashino, Nobunaga defeats clan Takeda . Extensive use of modern firearms employed.
1582 – Nobunaga is murdered. Succeeded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi’s reforms help to re-establish order and peace in the country.
1591 – Toyotomi Hideyoshi brings peace and unity to Japan.
EDO (TOKUGAWA) PERIOD
1603 – Ieyasu is appointed shogun by the emperor, and the capital is moved to Edo (which is renamed Tokyo).
This was the founding of the Tokugawa dynasty of shoguns which lasts 256 years.
1614 – Ieyasu bans Christianity in Japan.
1630s – The Japanese emperor isolates the country from the rest of the world to keep Japan free from foreign influences.
1633 – The shogun Iemitsu forbids foreign travel and the reading of foreign books.
1638 – The shogun Iemitsu forbids ship building.
1639 – Interaction with foreigners is restricted to Nagasaki.
1645 – Iemitsu bans all foreigners in Japan, except for the Chinese and the Dutch.
1650 – As peace reigned, a new kind of samurai developed – the literate warrior – following the bushido code (path of the warrior).
1700s – Edo (Tokyo) becomes the largest city in the world.
1707 – Mount Fuji erupts.
1853 – Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States sails into Tokyo Bay with four warships. Previous requests to open ports to US ships had been denied. Perry brought with him a personal letter from the President of the USA.
1854 – The USA and Japan sign a trade agreement (treaty of Kanagawa) which reopens Japan to foreigners after two centuries. According to the accord, Japan opens two ports to the United States for trade.
1855 – Japan establishes diplomatic relations with Russia, which has by this time extended its control from Europe all the way to the Pacific coast.
1867 – A group of samurai and lords force the shogun to restore complete power to the emperor.
1868 – Meiji Period begins. The emperor announces the official return of theimperial power beginning the Meiji era. Shogun Yoshinobu resigns, the Tokugawa dynasty ends.
1870s – The Japanese government begins modernizing the country.
1870 – Meiji emperor officially ends the feudal system and lords are forbidden to have their own clan armies.
1872 – The first railway line from Tokyo and Yokohama goes into operation.
1873 – Japan grants religious freedom to all denominations and begins using the Gregorian calendar of the West.
1877 – The samurai revolt against the emperor after the decree forbidding them to carry weapons. They are defeated by the national army.
1889 – Meiji emperor enacts a constitution with parliamentary system.
1895 – Japan defeats China, taking control of Korea and Taiwan.
1899 – Nippon Electric Corporation (NEC) is founded which creates a network of telecommunications across the country.
Early 1900s – Japan introduces public education.
Early 1900s – Japan becomes a modern industrial and military world power.
1902 – Japan signs the London treaty with Britain which mutually recognises Japan’s rights in Korea and Britain’s interests in China.
1904 – Japan attacks Manchurian Russia, crippling the Russian fleet at Port Arthur, and also invades Korea.
1905 – More than 100,000 combatants die at the battle of Mukden between Japan and Russia.
1905 – Japan is victorious against the Russian fleet in the naval Battle of the Tsushima Straits.
1905 – Russia gives up Manchuria and Sakhalin to Japan, and recognises a Japanese protectorate over Korea.
1910 – Japan invades Korea, ending the Choson dynasty.
1912 – Emperor Meiji dies. The new emperor Taisho grants more power to the parliament. Taisho Period begins.
1914 – World War One begins. Britain, France, Italy, Russia, USA and Japan against Austria, Germany and Turkey.
1914 – Japan expands its Asian trade while Europe is preoccupied with the war. The Japanese economy booms with the new impetus.
1920s – After the war, the European powers renew their trade ties with Asia, causing the Japanese economy to falter.
1923 – A devastating earthquake shakes the Tokyo-Yokohama region.
1924 – US Congress passes the Exclusion Act, prohibiting further immigration from Japan.
1926 – Showa Period Begins.
1931 – Japan invades Manchuria and creates the state of Manchukuo.
1932 – Prime minister Inukai is assassinated.
1933 – Japan suffers condemnation for its occupation of Manchuria, and leaves the League of Nations.
1936 – Germany and Japan sign the Anti-Communism pact.
1936 – Military right-wing leaders take control of the government.
1937 – Invasion of China (second Sino-Japanese war).
1939 – Toshiba company is founded to produce household appliances.
1940 – Japan occupies French Indochina (Vietnam) with approval from the French (Vichy) government and announces the intention of creating a „Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere“.
1941 – General Hideki Tojo becomes prime minister and prepares for war against the United States.
1941 – Japan attacks the US fleet at Pearl Harbor.
1941 – Japan occupies Thailand and the Philippines.
1942 – The Japanese empire reaches its greatest extent spanning much of the area from the eastern edge of India through Indonesia, and from the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific to the Aleutian Islands in the North Pacific.
May 1942 – The Battle of the Coral Sea ends in an inconclusive draw between Japan and the United States, with both sides suffering heavy losses.
June 1942 – The United States wins the Battle of Midway.
1942- Japan invades Indonesia and British controlled India.
1944 – The USA drops 22,885 tons of bombs on the Tokyo-Kawasaki-Yokohama area.
1944 – Prime minister Hideki Tojo resigns.
1945 – The USA drops two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and
Nagasaki and emperor Hirohito surrenders.
1945 – World War II ends and Japan is forced to retreat from the land it occupied.
1946 – Japan is occupied by the allies under the direction of US General MacArthur. Under his direction many American cultural ideals are instituted in the various reforms.
1947 – Japan adopts a new constitution, authored by the US.
1952 – The Allied occupation of Japan ends. Independence returned. US Military bases remain to this day.
1953 – The United States returns northern Ryukyus to Japan.
1954 – Japanese electronic company TTK (later Sony) introduces the world’s first transistor radio.
1955-1993 – The Liberal democratic Party (LDP) dominates politics.
1956 – First Japanese car sold in the USA.
1959 – Crown Prince Akihito marries a commoner (Michiko Shoda), breaking long-standing tradition.
1960 – Japan begins an amazing economic growth that propels it into the second greatest economic power of the world.
1970s – Japan becomes a great industrial world power.
1971 – Emperor Hirohito makes history by visiting Western Europe. (The first time a Japanese emperor had ever left the country).
1972 – The rest of the Ryukyu Islands are returned to Japan.
1979 – Sony launches the „Walkman“ radio cassette player.
1981 – Toshiba enters the market for laptop computers.
1982 – Sony launches the compact disc.
Late 1980s AD – The Japanese manufacturers begin having a hard time selling their products abroad.
1989 – Emperor Hirohito dies. Akihito begins to reign.
1989 – The Japanese economy enters a recession.
1991 – Over-inflated property prices reach their maximum then crash, damaging investments and banking industry. The Japanese „bubble economy“ bursts, beginning a 10-year bear market.
1993 – A coalition of seven other parties defeats the LDP. The coalition rules for ten months, but had too many co nflicting views on many issues.
Mid 1994 – The LDP returns to power.
1995 – An earthquake in Kobe claims 6,500 victims.
1997 – Economic crisis worsens.
1998 – The Democratic Party of Japan and Liberal Party come to power.
2001 – Junichiro Koizumi becomes prime
minister promising to fight the 10-year-old stagnation
with tough reforms.
2006 – Many regard the period of stagnation to be overcome through the reshuffling and reforms Mr Koizumi introduced.
2006 – Mr Shinzo Abe takes over as Japan’s 90th Prime Minister and continues in the footsteps of Mr Koizumi.
In continuous power struggle and changes in the ruling party after 50 years the Democratic Party of Japan regained power and Mr Hatoyama became Japans latest prime minister.